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Center Snapshot: Marilé Colón Robles
Marilé Colón Robles. Image above: Marilé Colón Robles, an educator at Langley, volunteers to staff climate-related exhibits at a variety of Langley-sponsored events. Photo credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

Marilé Colón Robles is an educator at NASA Langley whose career enables her to continue to learn new things each day.

She approximates "about two to three new things," she said. With almost a year at Langley behind her, those things have quickly added up.

Through receiving her Master’s degree in atmospheric sciences, and throughout her work experience, Colón Robles has become an expert on aerosols and clouds. But since being at Langley, she also has learned about planets, comets, exploration, aeronautics, engineering and epidemiology.

She soaks up as much science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge as she can and then encourages students, teachers and the public to do the same.

As a member of Langley's Informal Education Team, she supports NASA’s Hispanic Education Initiative and helps to manage the agency’s partnership with Univision Communications.

Colón Robles develops content for the initiatives bilingual website, NASA y Tu (NASA and You), a product of NASA's partnership with Univision Communications:

Her work not only combines her old and new knowledge, but it also combines many of her passions: education, outreach, science and her Hispanic heritage.

"Right now, I am working with the Hypersonic Inflatable Aero Decelerators, or HIADS, team here at Langley to make interactive boards about the Inflatable Re-entry Vehicle Experiment," Colón Robles said. "I am also participating in making the interaction with teachers and children in schools all around the U.S. through the Digital Learning Network (DLN) available in Spanish.

"This is very close to my heart, as is -- being a Latina -- to be able to give back to the Latino community."

Colón Robles was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico. She moved to the U.S. in 2004 to continue her education at the University of Illinois.

She was in a new country, away from her family and experiencing cold weather for the first time. And when she did a one-year internship in Boulder, Colo., at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, she experienced new adventures with wildlife. "I loved the mountains but didn’t like getting emails near the end of the day that said ‘There is a bear in the parking lot - please use an escort to get to your car,' " Colón Robles said.

She is much happier in the warmer climates that Virginia offers. She also considers the mountains and beaches a bonus.

Colón Robles enjoys playing volleyball and hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she plans to marry her fiancé, Jason Tackett of the Science Directorate, on April 30.

Music is also one of her passions.

She is a recorded artist and studied in the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico, where she played flute and harp. "I used to travel all over the world, singing, dancing and playing my flute with the group Paracumbé, which is a folkloric group of Bomba and Plena - the musical styles developed in Puerto Rico due to the colonization of Spain and the presence of African slaves in the Caribbean," she said.

Her talents earned her a standing ovation when she was in the 10th grade and auditioning for the Conservatory. "It was quite a challenging piece, and there was this one high note that was extremely difficult to hit after a whole mess of super fast notes," Colón Robles said. "I got up on stage, and with all my heart, I played that piece and the most emotional part of the piece came and I hit the note!"

She finished the song with a smile hiding behind the mouthpiece of her flute and the audience rose to their feet.

As Colón Robles' knowledge continues to add up at Langley, she plans to return to Puerto Rico to "pay it forward and give back to my loving island."

No standing ovation necessary.

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